Supervisor Harassed Latino Janitors, Federal Agency Charged
LAS VEGAS — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the $125,000 settlement of a national origin harassment lawsuit it had filed against Simon Property Group, Inc., which identifies itself as the largest real estate company in the United States. The EEOC had charged that Latino janitors working for the company were subjected to daily verbal attacks because of their national origin. Simon Property Group owns and/or manages various shopping malls throughout the country, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the site where the EEOC said the abuse occurred.
According to the EEOC’s suit, a housekeeping shift leader, who was white, had harassed a class of Latino janitors on a daily basis beginning in 2005, subjecting them to verbal abuse, including slurs. Over a dozen Latino janitors submitted a written petition that same year complaining about the shift leader, but they perceived that nothing was done to stop the harassment. The EEOC alleged that the harassment continued for another year, until the supervisor was finally terminated for other reasons.
The EEOC originally filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (EEOC v. Simon Property Group, Inc., Case No. 2:09-cv-01178), alleging that the conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The parties entered into a two-year consent decree providing monetary relief for at least five harassment victims along with injunctive relief designed to prevent and appropriately deal with future instances of harassment. The consent decree also requires that Simon Property retain a consultant to monitor and track complaints in Nevada; provide anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for staff; and report compliance efforts to the EEOC.
“We commend Simon Property for reinforcing measures to prevent future instances of harassment and discrimination,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over southern Nevada. “National origin discrimination issues are on the rise and we are committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws to ensure workplaces free of harassment and discrimination.”
Adriana Lopez, acting director for the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office, added, “We encourage workers to report harassment as they did here in this case. We equally encourage employers to take proactive steps to stop harassment and to take swift action when it does occur.”
According to its website, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group is an S&P 500 company with ownership or property interest in 392 properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia, generating annual retail sales in excess of $60 billion in the United States.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.